Brady, now 45 years old, has had a tumultuous offseason, retiring in February only to later reverse that decision. In the midst of August’s training camp, Brady took an 11-day leave of absence to “deal with personal things,” according to his head coach Todd Bowles.
Last week, Brady said: “As you get older, life changes quite a bit. There’s different responsibilities that take form in your life. There’s different perspectives you gain.”
The seven-time Super Bowl champion, speaking on his regularly scheduled ‘Let’s Go!’ podcast with co-host Jim Gray on Tuesday, said that he is “feeling more than things in the past for some reason” as he competes in his 23rd NFL season.
“I’m just really feeling intensely my emotions,” the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback told Gray. “And I feel like I always have that, but I think when you get close to the end – and I don’t know exactly where I’m at with that, but there’s no decision to be made, it’s not like I have 10 years left, I definitely don’t have that.
“All these, I’m just never going to take for granted. The only time it really slapped me in the face to say: ‘Don’t take this for granted’ was when I got injured with my knee. And after that, I came back and said: ‘Winning’s great. I love winning and I hated losing, and I still do, but even if you lose and you walk off the field healthy, there’s something to be gained from it.’ The part is, if you get injured and you can’t be there with your team, that’s really where it gets mentally challenging and emotionally challenging.”
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Brady and the Bucs opened the new season with a comfortable 19-3 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Although Brady said that there is a “simplicity to life when you’re in the football season because there’s a rhythm to it,” he explained waking up on Monday morning the day after a win with bruises and cuts on his arm. “Holy s**t, there were a few hits,” he said.
“And you go: ‘OK, how much longer do I want to make this commitment?’ And I obviously made the commitment for this year and everything’s going to be continuously evaluated all these different aspects at play.”
Brady outlined how he now has “no margins of error” as a 45-year-old quarterback compared to those 20 years his junior in terms of his physical preparation and recovery.
When asked by Gray about why he would consider retiring if he is still performing at a high level, Brady noted the impact of age on his priorities.
“When I was 25, there was a simplicity of 25-year-old life,” Brady said.
“And I think when you’re 45, and you have a lot of other commitments and obligations which are very important to you – namely children that are growing up and things that, I haven’t had a Christmas in 23 years and I haven’t had a Thanksgiving in 23 years, I haven’t celebrated birthdays with people that I care about that are born from August to late January. And I’m not able to be at funerals and I’m not able to be at weddings.
“I think there comes a point in your life where you say: ‘You know what? I’ve had my fill and it’s enough and time to go on, to move into other parts of life.’”
Gisele Bündchen, Brady’s wife, told Elle that she had “concerns” about her husband – already the oldest ever NFL quarterback – making a return from his February retirement.
“This is a very violent sport, and I have my children and I would like him to be more present,” Bündchen said. “I have definitely had those conversations with him over and over again. But ultimately, I feel that everybody has to make a decision that works for [them]. He needs to follow his joy, too.”
She added: “I’ve done my part, which is [to] be there for [Tom]. I moved to Boston, and I focused on creating a cocoon and a loving environment for my children to grow up in and to be there supporting him and his dreams. Seeing my children succeed and become the beautiful little humans that they are, seeing him succeed, and being fulfilled in his career – it makes me happy. At this point in my life, I feel like I’ve done a good job on that.”
The Buccaneers face the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.